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Chateaubriand was the giant of French literature in the early nineteenth century. Drawing on eighteenth-century English romanticists, on explorers in America, and on Goethe's Werther , he had a profound effect on French writers from Victor Hugo and Lamartine to George Sand and Flaubert. A quixotic and paradoxical personality, he combined impressive careers as a brilliant prose-poet, a spiritual guide, a high-ranking diplomat, and an enterprising lover. Atala and Rene are his two best-kwn works, reflecting t only his own joys, aspirations, and despair, but the emerging tastes of a new literary era. Atala is the passionate and tragic love story of a young Indian couple wandering in the wilderness, enthralled by the beauties of nature, drawn to a revivified Christianity by its esthetic charm and consoling beneficence, and finally succumbing to the cruelty of fate. Perhaps even more than Werther or Childe Harold , Rene embodies the romantic hero, and is t wholly foreign to the disorientation of youth today. Solitary, mysterious, ardent, and poetic, he is in open revolt against a society whose values he rejects. Without question, this archetype played a large part in determining the course of French literature up to the 1850's.